Sri Lanka: Tamil students protest university closure

More than 1000 students protested against the closure of the Jaffna University on December 2, TamilNet said.

The university was reopened that day after several weeks of closure. All universities in Sri Lanka had been closed during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to prevent them being used as organising centres for protests. But in the case of Jaffna University, situated in the predominantly Tamil north of the island, the closure was prolonged to prevent students from marking Heroes Day on November 27.

On Heroes Day, Tamils commemorate those who died fighting for an independent Tamil homeland. Last year, Jaffna University students lit candles in a student hostel to commemorate Heroes Day in defiance of of the occupying Sri Lankan Army. Dozens of students were arrested, and some were kept in detention for several months.

The closure of Jaffna University was intended to prevent any such commemoration this year. However, medical students at Jaffna Hospital managed to defy the ban, and commemorations were held elsewhere throughout Tamil areas of the island of Sri Lanka, as well as in the diaspora.